GE Clock Radio Red and Square(ish)

4"x6" oil on door skin panel Some of the details in these little paintings can be somewhat challenging. The grille in the middle of this old clock radio is a good example. It is a defining element, so I think it is necessary, but it is a royal pain in the neck. When confronted with this kind of widely varying dilemma, I usually fall back on one approach: Just dive in and do it. And, as further evidence of my insanity, make it even harder than it has to be. Here, I painted against form on the grille instead of just painting up and down in the same direction. I think it was Jean Paul Sartre's right eye that said, "Easy? Who wants to live there?" Or was it maybe John Cleese using an outrageous French accent or, and this is more likely, was it one of the sage waiters down at The Pantry? I can't remember.

Posted March 26, 2015

Aryiel

10"x8" oil on canvas panel Another painting from a great live (as opposed to dead) model. On a different note... I have been judged into the May 2015 Beverly Hills Art Show. Another chance to humiliate myself in public and have the other artists hit on The Spousal Unit—I wouldn't pass it up for the world. Actually, I could do without the second part. Oh well, moths to a flame and all that. The show takes place on the weekend of May 16th and 17th. These shows are the only time the city elders allow me to be within the Beverly Hills city limits, so I try to make the most of it. More info to follow at a later date.
 
Posted March 24, 2015

Maneki Neko with Pot

6"x4" oil on canvas panel This overly happy, thus dubious cat is beckoning for us to take his pot of even more dubious food. Pot of what? Are some foodstuffs more lucky than others? And if there is curry in there, I will be pretty ticked off—this artist can't stomach curry. Anyway... All my suspicions aside, I saw this unique Maneki Neko down in Little Tokyo and had to have it. (Him or her? Don't ask me—I don't know how to check for gender on a ceramic cat and I am not sure I want to know.) Oh yeah, The Spousal Unit thought I deserved a good beating for my pun-ishing commentary in last Tuesday's post with Mr. Darwin. Needless to say, I didn't get any cookies that day.

Posted March 19, 2015


Charles Darwin

10"x8" oil on canvas panel This was supposed to be an 8"x8", but it evolved into a 10"x8" piece. Sorry about that sentence—I couldn't help myself and its origin was specious. Ooh, that just hurts. It is true though; due to Mr. Darwin's massive beard, I deemed a change in format wise. I threw everything I had at that beard. If you look closely, you will see the kitchen sink in there somewhere.

Posted March 17, 2015

sold/commission • private collection thousand oaks, ca

Little NYMCO Box Camera

6"x4" oil on canvas panel I love my little NYMCO box camera. It shares the honorary place next to my computer along with my favorite Maneki Neko (lucky cat bank), that's how much I love this petite camera. It is a really small camera, so this is one of those rare occasions when the subject is actually smaller in real life than it is in my painting. I thought you might like to see it, so I have included a photograph and, sticking to my creed of relative scale, I have thrown in a quarter to give you an idea of the camera's size. You might be asking, "Why does he keep a lucky cat bank next to his computer?" (You probably weren't wondering that at all, but better to play it safe and just go along with the insane artist.) Well, it's because The Spawn no longer allow me to rub their bellies for luck, so I need something to touch for good luck, obviously." 

Posted March 12, 2015

Lollipop Heart #2

6"x4" oil on door skin panel During the painting of the above painting, The Spousal Unit came into the studio and, from over my shoulder, said, "That's nice. You're painting another heart shaped lollipop." Another? What the... I had totally forgotten that I had painted one of these years back. Not the same heart-shaped lollipop, that one is long gone, but another 25 year-old piece of candy slipped into Spawn Number Two's bag during various Halloween festivities. This lack of knowledge about the origin of food given to one of my children is more evidence of my being a perfectly horrible parent. Somebody could slip one of my kids an apple with a thermo-nuclear device sticking out of its side and I would probably just say, "How nice. At least it isn't one of those horrible orange and black Halloween themed toothbrushes our neighbor hands out every year."

Posted March 5, 2015

sold • private collection olympia, wa

Leah

10"x8" oil on canvas panel Another painting session that started off with the use of a brush and then, at some point, devolved into a knife fight. Sometimes, just sometimes mind you, brushes aggravate me when they wimp out on the amount of paint they can scoop, move and carve. So the knives come out of my bag and then... all bets are off. Oh yeah, and I am left hoping I did not insult the model with the result. The knife I resorted to using on the ever wonderful Leah could cover the entire surface of this panel in two, maybe three drags. I like working with implements that appear obnoxiously too large for the purpose. This forces a looseness in my work (i.e., a lack of preciousness) and makes the artists painting around me a little nervous. Yes, I am the official union representative for the "Un-United Insane Guys Painting in the Back of the Room," Local Chapter #137. We don't hold meetings.
 
Posted March 3, 2015

Bottle Trio #4


6"x4" oil on door skin panel I would like to start this commentary by stating that any jazz station that cuts short a John Coltrane song to do its station ID should have something really nasty done to it—really nasty. Now that I am officially on the NSA's radar with that thinly veiled call to violence (or at least a call to steal the station's coffee machine—we jazz people cannot survive without our coffee or our sunglasses), let's talk about the painting. Whilst I have painted several pieces with three bottles as subjects, there were only three bearing the title of "Bottle Trio #__," all painted back in 2010. With this painting, there are now four with that moniker. To illustrate how my painting style has changed over time, especially the color work, I have included below an image of the three predecessors. Now, if you will excuse me, I need to go and put on my tin foil hat and sever all digital communications.

Posted February 25, 2015

The Other Jonathan


10"x8" oil on canvas panel This is called "The Other Jonathan" because it is the other Jonathan. Back in 2010—when I was painting from live models almost weekly—I painted the also wonderful Jonathan you see below. Professional models are great at providing inspiration to paint pushers, even hacks like me.

 
Posted February 20, 2015

Dubble Bubble Gum

4"x6" oil on door skin panel This piece of bubble gum was living a quiet and, in all probability, a happy life at the bottom of the Logan Family candy drawer. We do not eat a whole lot of candy, so the bottom of said drawer was officially designated by our good friends over at NASA as a black hole. If you unwittingly chewed this piece of innocent looking gum of undetermined age (maybe the late Soviet Era?), the odds are you would drop dead. Well, somehow this simple headed artist stumbled upon it. And luckily, since there was adult supervision (The Spousal Unit awesomely looming) at the moment of discovery, the artist was prevented from shoving it into his mouth. Man! My hand still stings from that slap. The artist has been contemplating painting a larger version of this. That is, if he doesn't succeed—away from adult supervision—in shoving it into his gob. Bubble gum lasts forever, right?

Posted February 18, 2015

Round Teapot

12"x8" oil on canvas panel This is one of my favorite teapots amongst my collection of roughly 2,362 heavy metal brewers—enough metal to anchor a navy frigate and make me fear for the foundation of our house. This type of direct overhead lighting is a technique I reservedly use. Yes, it is dramatic, but it can also look like a cheap tool an artist falls back on to bolster a weak painting. Every painting is different and there was just something about the teapot's shape that made me decide to use it. Such a simple and plainly beautiful object being lit as if it was an angel appealed to me. Does it work? I will leave up to your discerning taste. Anyway... I reserve the right to use any arrow in my quiver, as long as I do not shoot myself in the foot (which has happened—notice the limp?).
 
Posted February 13, 2015

Cork and Lavender

6"x4" oil on masonite panel Lavender flowers may seem a bit plain for this purpose, but they fit the format with the bottles I wanted to paint and heck, they were there—quite a lot of them in fact. We have several lavender plants dispersed all over our property. This is not extraordinary in itself, but when you consider that the last time I planted one was maybe 16 or 17 years ago, it is somewhat amazing. They go ahead and die as they should (they are not long lived plants) and ten of their devious progeny pop up and me, being the lazy gardener that I am, I can always be counted on to forget to pull the little volunteers up. This process—basically a system of "die and repeat" combined with a lazy gardener—has kept us happily in lavender all these years.

Posted February 11, 2015

sold • private collection carpinteria, ca

J.M. Barrie

8"x8" oil on panel Well, let's chalk this one up as another one of Raymond's, "I thought I showed this to you before, no?" paintings. We can also chalk this one up as a "Wow. Look at that guy's misshapen coconut." paintings I have done. As humans, we have a general idea of what the human form "should" look like. I could be snobby and say that artists have a particularly acute sensibility, but I think we all pretty much have it. As evidence of this general sensibility, I offer up the proof that my own planetary orb scares the heck out of small children and even smaller dogs whenever I unveil it in public. Even a toy poodle or a snotty two-year-old knows that something is aesthetically wrong here, and they run away screaming to mommy. (And no, I do not think it has anything to do with my personality.) This sensibility can really mess up an artist. When confronted with somebody like Mr. Barrie here with his conflicting facial angles, or worse, someone with a table top cranium like Edgar Allan Poe, we can—on an almost subconscious level—start to correct these features as we paint. These corrective impulses creep in when that freight train of a forehead gets a little smaller or that eye that seems to be located somewhere up in Alaska starts to slide its way down into the more "ideal" level position with the other eye—closer to Seattle say, than Anchorage. This, of course, sabotages the painting by washing away the subject's unique characteristics. It is a constant battle waged over the course of a painting. I cannot tell you how many eyes—sometimes the ONLY part of a painting that might be working for me at the time—that I have had to scrape off or goo over and repaint due to this inherent desire to correct the human form. It may be awful pretty, but if it is in the wrong position, we must be willing to destroy. And the fact that we have to destroy the element makes it seem even more beautiful than it really is, but just get in there and nuke it and move on. Sorry for the loquacious commentary, but Mr. Poe's expansive forehead really did freak me out when I encountered it on the easel. Oh, I almost forgot. I have included a little shot of a commissioned piece I recently did of Abraham Lincoln. Talk about a person who had wonderfully unique characteristics—inside and out. 

Posted February 6, 2015

Ansco Shur Shot Box Camera

6"x4" oil on door skin panel Well, after a hiatus that lasted months, I am back on eBay hawking my wares. This camera marks my official plunge back into the stormy seas of online capitalism. The starting bid on eBay is lower than the regular amount I normally sell these little paintings for. I don't know why I start lower, but it was probably due to some grand marketing strategy I once had. Anyway, a savvy shopper can benefit from my sticking to a plan that I, quite frankly, cannot remember and will probably be rectifying in the future. Enough about eBay and my bizarre pricing scheme that probably makes no sense. Let's talk about the painting, shall we? I painted this piece because I hate the front of this camera. Oh, I like the camera well enough, it is those dang lines on the front that scared the heck out of me. How was I to paint them? They couldn't be worse if the devil himself had designed them (and I do not think he was working for Ansco at the time). It wasn't about just being able to paint the lines, it was about applying the way I paint to those lines. You see, I need to move my colors, temperatures, and tonal shifts around in them or there is no point. The best way to deal with seemingly impossible challenges, I find, is to just jump in and attack them. This painting is evidence of my assault. I have no idea if I succeeded, but I do hope you like it. For you detail hounds out there, I really do not remember how I approached it, but I can tell you this, it was a process that probably required the extensive use of dark chocolate (at least 72% cacao or don't even talk to me). And to achieve success in my chosen vocation, I am required to buy my dark chocolate in one pound bars. Oh yeah, it is in the official artist bylaws—right next to the "Don't Eat Your Paint" clause. I wonder if the chocolate qualifies as a write off?   
 
Posted February 4, 2015


Adventurer 620 Camera

10"x8" oil on canvas panel Another one of those cameras I saw and just had to have. Somewhat bulky, a bit brittle and awkward, it is totally not designed to go on any sort of adventure and there is the proclamation right on the faceplate, "Adventurer." A bold misnomer if ever there was one. Still, it is a good looking little camera and my addiction dictated that I had to have it. People often ask me about my color work. I never know how to respond, except to say that I follow that age old version of color theory, so prized by the masters, the very sophisticated "Total Insanity" method. This little piece is a good example of it. The grays of the faceplate and the background have every color on my palette thrown at them. Blacks, whites, and grays are the devil's playground for my not-so-idle hands. (That was a bizarre sentence and I would apologize for it, but I don't understand it myself.)
 
Posted January 23, 2015

 
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